Hoddom Castle, Ecclefechan, Aug 2012

Hoddom Castle, Ecclefechan, Aug 2012

For a change, instead of heading south down the M6 we decided to go north and over the border into Scotland. The decision was partly made because we couldn’t get into any of the sites we tried first, for the Bank Holiday weekend and we had to book for 3 nights rather than 2 to be able to get in.

With a bit of juggling of other things we set off on Friday morning, with a plan to stay until Monday and to travel back them. 

Alison at a wet Tebay Services
We left packing until the Friday morning and set off around 11am. The M6 was already quite busy but cleared after the M55 Blackpool junction leaving a pleasant drive up to the Tebay Services where we stopped for lunch. 
If you’ve never stopped here then we recommend you give it a try. Forget all your pre-conceptions of usual Motorway Services – this one is very different. The food is great (as are the views) and there’s a fully stocked Farm Shop with great meat, pies, bread, etc. 
As you can see the heavens opened whilst we were in the services but it cleared up as we got further north.
It was at Tebay that we suddenly remembered we’d forgotten to pack any bedding for the weekend! We decided that we’d buy some sleeping bags and I searched the internet to see if there were any outdoor shops here:
We were in luck (not a word I’d normally associate with trip to an Outlet Village) and managed to buy a couple from the world’s campest but extremely helpful Mountain Warehouse shop assistant. Any guesses at what colour we chose?

Scotland (just)

Our destination for the weekend was Hoddom Castle near to Ecclefechan on the river Annan. We arrived around 3.30 and were given a map to find our pitch. The site has a one way driving system which works well in avoiding traffic conflicts but makes getting in and out of the site a long winded affair.

We’d opted for a hard standing pitch with electric hookup and we had good views of the castle from our base:
The site covered all bases with static caravans, seasonal tourers, tents and motorhomes plus some tiny pod like structures that looked smaller than Absinthe!

There was a golf course on site, a bar, restaurant and take away. A couple of pints in the bar on Friday night convinced us to stay in the awning on Saturday! It was ok but a bit noisy (as was the family in the caravan next to us who played loud music until about 10.30 – it wasn’t the noise that bothered me so much as the choice of soft rock…)
Carling for her, Belhaven Best for me and pork scratchings for Boz
After bacon sandwiches on Saturday morning we detached Absinthe and headed to the small town of Annan for a mooch. Unfortunately it was raining and there wasn’t much there, although we drove down to Annan Harbour, which wasn’t quite what we were expecting:
 We left Annan and headed along the Solway Heritage Route which included some Robert Burns related places and eventually took us to Caerlaverock Castle. We were greeted by the Castle Guide who was very interested in Absinthe and chatted with us for a while. We decided to have a drink in the cafe before exploring the castle.
View from the cafe

Inside the castle

The guide next to Absinthe
By now the rain was very light and we spent an hour and a half there – the castle is great and well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
After the stop we continued along the scenic route until we got to Dumfries. Unfortunately it had started raining again but we wandered around the shops for a while – Dumfries seems much more run down than I remember from my last visit, a few years ago. Maybe it’s the recession biting.
The Burns statue in Dumfries
Parked by the weir
We bought some food from M & S and headed back to the campsite for the evening. Sleeping in the sleeping bags wasn’t fun for me – mine was too short (or I’m too tall!) and I felt like an Egyptian Mummy – not a good night’s sleep but at least Alison didn’t bury me in my sarcophagus.
On Sunday we set off for Ecclefechan as I’d always fancied trying an Ecclefechan Tart. No luck though as there was no sign of life in Ecclefechan. We drove on to Moffat which was much more lively with a lovely walk for us and Boris along the river where I even spotted my favourite bird (what? you don’t have a favourite bird? Maybe it’s only me then…)
It’s a Dipper by the way
We bought fish and chips in Moffat and did a bit of people watching. A coach full of elderly Americans arrived, which to a people-watcher is like striking gold. Long conversations about nothing ensued until one of them pointed at Moffat’s most prominent piece of sculpture, sited in the main square, and declared that it was an owl!
When is an owl, not an owl? When it’s a ram!
Once she’d gone over to it and discovered it was a ram she then spent many happy moments asking the other Americans if they could identify it – To a man they all said, “Owl”. Weird.
There were two other Kombis parked in Moffat but I didn’t get to chat to either of the owners.

Moffat – Kombi Central
Moffat – Kombi Central

We took the slow route back to Hoddom and called into Dalton Art Cafe and Pottery for a cup of tea. Someone there can’t park very well…
Maybe they were distracted by this cow
We’d seen the forecast for Monday (rain, rain, high winds and rain) so decided to pack up and leave on Sunday afternoon. As we dropped the keys for the toilet blocks off I noticed this Kombi parked in the car park – I hung around for a while to try and catch the owners but, again, no luck.
All in all a reasonable weekend and our first trip to Scotland in Absinthe – I’m sure we’ll get further north at some point.
For more photos click here.

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